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International Viewpoint: Pull back on Russian sanctions

Considering that it was the U.S. Department of State that helped foment the insurrection against democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, America should not be rubbing salt into the open sore it created in Eastern Europe.

Increasing sanctions on Russia and provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine can only make an already tense situation worse.

The chief American culprits in the removal of Yanukovych were Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Nuland, who is married to the arch-neoconservative Robert Kagan, a promoter of other ill-advised American military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, proudly admitted that the United States spent $5 billion following Ukraine’s independence in 1991 to seek a Kiev government compliant with Washington’s and NATO’s wishes.

After protesters, many of them neo-Nazis and fascist Ukrainian nationalists, occupied Kiev’s Maidan Square in February 2014, they called for the resignation of Yanukovych and his government.

Nuland was clearly instigating the crowd when she and Pyatt handed out sandwiches to the Maidan protesters who were, at the same time, being egged on by Sen. John McCain. What developed in the “Euromaidan” uprising was a classic U.S.-led “themed revolution.”

Themed revolutions had already destabilized Ukraine in 2004 with the so-called “Orange Revolution.” That was followed by the “Rose Revolution” in the Republic of Georgia, the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, and years later, by the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and the Lotus Revolution in Egypt. These and other themed revolutions are right out of the CIA’s playbook for overthrowing governments unacceptable to Washington.

After Ukrainian ultranationalists and neo-Nazis seized key ministries in Ukraine, including the national security and defence ministries, the Kiev putschist regime began making threats against eastern and southern Ukraine’s Russian and Russian-speaking populations.

Although the Russophone and ethnic Russians constitute a majority in cities like Donetsk, Lugansk and Odessa, they remained an overall minority, albeit a significant one, in a Ukraine that was now intent on stripping them of their language, education, political and other constitutionally enshrined rights.

The autonomous Ukrainian republic of Crimea, which was handed over by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954 as a “gift,” was fearful of the fascists taking over power in Kiev. The Crimean autonomous government held a popular referendum to return to its original motherland, Russia. The referendum passed easily and Crimea joined the Russian Federation.

Crimea’s retrocession to Russia and the eastern Ukrainian provinces’ demand for self-government from Kiev resulted in Washington urging a reluctant European Union to adopt punishing economic sanctions against Russia. Meanwhile, the neoconservative power structures in Washington, largely represented by their “poster boys” McCain and his friend, Sen. Lindsey Graham, pushed for the deployment of U.S. and NATO troops to Ukraine, speedy membership for Ukraine in NATO, and the delivery of lethal weaponry to the Kiev regime.

The U.S. sanctions against Russia created harsh economic times for Polish and French farmers; German automobile factory workers; and the Greek tourist industry.

European leaders, from Austrian President Heinz Fischer and French President François Hollande to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, called for the diminution of sanctions against Russia. Threats to arm Kiev also resulted in plans by Russia to increase weapons in its Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic and in Belarus.

Once again, saner voices in Europe are calling for a reduction in tensions while American neocons unfortunately seem intent on starting a new Cold War.

» Wayne Madsen is a journalist and author specializing in national security affairs and international relations. This column was posted on the Winnipeg Free Press website.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 16, 2015

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Considering that it was the U.S. Department of State that helped foment the insurrection against democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, America should not be rubbing salt into the open sore it created in Eastern Europe.

Increasing sanctions on Russia and provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine can only make an already tense situation worse.

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Considering that it was the U.S. Department of State that helped foment the insurrection against democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, America should not be rubbing salt into the open sore it created in Eastern Europe.

Increasing sanctions on Russia and provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine can only make an already tense situation worse.

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